Finding the right accommodation is one of the most challenging aspects of traveling. Sometimes all a person knows can only be the word hotel but actually there 10 kinds of lodging, each unique in its own way. Things to consider when choosing a hotel or vacation rental to stay in include your age, budget, destination, length of stay, purpose, noise tolerance level, type of travel companions, hotel location, amenities, and of course the reviews.
- Boutique Hotel
- Capsule Hotel
- Love Hotel
- Guest House
- Bed And Breakfast
- Apartment Hotel
- Holiday Villa / Vacation Rental
- Farm Stay
- Monastery Stay
- Campervan / Motorhome
The most traditional choice is to find a great hotel somewhere that offers the amenities you want at a price you can afford. At a hotel, you definitely have your own room and bathroom as well as maid service. You will usually have your bags carried to your room, fresh towels delivered, and your bed made up daily. Inside the room you will find a mini refrigerator, wet bar, cable tv, wireless internet, hair dryer, telephone, etc.
For some, a hotel stay may be too pricey. You may also find that some hotels have thin walls separating rooms and corridors. Even if the walls are thick, without door closers, you will constantly hear doors slamming throughout your stay, day and night. Compared to homestays, hostels, b&B, and guest houses, the experience of a hotel stay is relatively impersonal. The security is tighter and socially conducive common areas are not common.
A boutique hotel is a small stylish hotel with less than 100 rooms located in a swanky urban location. It’s usually one of a kind with decor of sleek materials and stark palettes with bold color splashes. It may also reflect the heritage of the location. The service provided is more personal than that of a standard hotel as it is small. The type of customers that boutique hotels attract are usually young and tech savvy with middle income averages.
A typical boutique hotel is usually not affiliated with any franchise so you won’t gain any loyalty points. The restaurant is normally simple and small and can get crowded especially during peak hours. A boutique hotel is also not suitable for business travelers as most won’t have ballrooms or meeting spaces.
A type of hotel that is found commonly in Japan that offers extremely small rooms with only basic amenities like communal washrooms, a locker for storing luggage, television and wireless internet. The biggest benefit of a capsule hotel is the price and convenience, usually around JPY 3000/night. They are mostly used by Japanese locals who are too drunk to return home safely or too embarrassed to face their spouse.
Totally not the place to stay in for claustrophobics. For a fat person, it will feel like sleeping in a coffin. If you want to sleep with your lover, this is also not for you. It is also pretty inconvenient to have to store your belongings in a locker and if your luggage does not fit, it will have to be kept at the front desk. You may hit your head if you suddenly wake up. Moreover, there are usually a list of rules that the hotel expect guests to follow like leaving every day by 10am and not being able to check in again until 2pm.
While you may think that a love hotel is some rundown, scruffy underbelly of Japanese culture, you can be rest assured that in most reasonable establishments your room will be cleaner and more sanitized than their branded, expensive counterparts down the road. Rates start from as low as JPY 5000 for 3 hours during the day and JPY 10000 for the night. They are definitely value for money when you consider that the rooms are usually much bigger than a normal hotel room, often have large-screen TVs that can also be used for karaoke or video game units such as Play Station or Nintendo, have larger baths and showers, and larger beds.
If you are traveling with children, you will not be able to stay in a love hotel as children are strictly forbidden. Even large groups of people are turned away. As a love hotel is geared more towards locals, you may have problems communicating when checking in at the counter. As a love hotel is used mainly for copulating, you will most certainly hear sounds of pleasure echoing down the hallway. The view will most likely be the wall of the building next door.
A ryokan is your best bet for a truly traditional Japanese experience. Found all over the country and in hot spring resorts, they are equipped with tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and of course, local cuisine. Ryokan also range from no-frills, budget varieties to costly establishments catering to the very wealthy. A dinner will usually include an elaborate kaiseki ryori followed by a breakfast in the morning.
Walls are usually thin so noise from your next door neighbour snoring may pose a problem. If you are overweight, you may not like it as you may be sitting cross legged most of the time. Some establishments will provide you with a yokata to wear to dinner which you may not be comfortable with when you are constantly worried about the robe coming open. Also, you may not like the sleeping experience on a floor and on top of that, a futon.
A hostel is a much cheaper alternative to a hotel with the concept more focused on dormitory type rooms. Chances are, you will meet young and adventurous people from all over the world. It provides a unique social and learning experience unlike any other. Hostels are so common that you can usually find them all over place, be it in the outskirts or in a particular strategic location in the city.
Sometimes you may find school aged children occupying the hostel, especially during the holidays. You will have to endure the noise. Not only that, if you are in a dorm full of people you don’t know you will have to put up with strangers snoring throughout the night. Everything is usually shared. Bathrooms, toilets, tables, etc. Sometimes, the kitchen is limited. You may not have a proper place to prepare or store food. The level of formality in a hostel is certainly much less than in a hotel.
Hostals are small, basic accommodations mostly found in Spain and Hispanic America. The major difference between a hostel and hostal is that hostals typically provide private bathrooms.
A hotel will have somewhere you can eat while a hostal will not, maybe at most, a vending machine. The rooms will not be well appointed and the decorating my well be 20 years old. Besides, it will not be in its own building, but maybe occupy a floor or two of a much larger building.
A guesthouse is traditionally a small, privately owned homestead that rents out its rooms at a daily rate. A guesthouse will also have fewer rooms than a hotel, usually anything from 4-10 rooms. The owner usually lives in an entirely separate area within the property. Compared to a hotel, a guest house may provide better personal service and a lot of customers are repeat business.
The atmosphere may not be as classy, furniture may be a tad too old and many do not have credit card payment facilities. The location of the guest house may be too restrictive, hard to find and located beyond the heart of the city. Sometimes, the service of the staff may be slow, especially at times of full occupancy.
Your stay at a B&B will be a unique experience as no two are the same. You will feel more homelike and your hosts will generally be able to steer you toward “must sees” in the area. 1st rate operations will provide you with a unique experience. Most are quaint and friendly with good food.
A B&B is almost like a guest house, a small family run accommodation, with the only difference being the promise of a bed and breakfast and nothing else. Coffee, tea, the occasional snacks and evening meals are definitely not included. There are no standards and they may not accommodate your schedule, as they may go to bed by 10pm locking all the doors.
A motel is cheaper and more comfortable, as it is smaller and has less guest than a typical hotel. A motel is as convenient as it gets. You get to park right outside your unit. Another great advantage of staying in a motel is the ability to bring along pets.
As it is so convenient to access your room, security wise, it’s not as safe. Even room service is non existent. Lighting around the motel may be poor and being on the ground floor exposes you to bugs, especially mosquitoes.
Also known as serviced apartments, apartel, aparthotel, and extended stay hotel, it is simply a hotel in the form of an apartment. Many serviced apartments still have all the trimmings you’ll find in a standard hotel building, such as a pool, gym, conference center, restaurants and concierge so you don’t have to sacrifice any amenities. It’s more spacious, has a fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, lounge room, usually one or two bedrooms and parking. An apartment hotel is most suited for families and business travelers on extended assignments. Moreover, apartment hotels offer discounts for extended stays from 1 week onwards.
If you are traveling alone and/or on a budget, cooking is not your thing, and you enjoy meeting fellow like minded travelers, the apartment hotel is not for you.
A holiday villa is a lot like an apartment hotel, found commonly in Europe and South East Asia, especially by the beach. It feels a lot like home as you get to cook your own meals and are free to come and go as you like. It is most suitable for groups of travelers, especially families, as you get more privacy. Most vacation rentals are located outside tourist areas and in neighborhoods where locals live, providing you with more exposure to the local culture.
Holiday Villas are not found everywhere and many require a minimum stay of around one week. Security guards are not common and the price is more expensive if there are only 1 or 2 people renting it. As there is no standard to adhere to, a lot of the time you will find varying quality at similar price points. Sometimes the location can be too off the beaten path and if it’s in the heart of the city, you may not have parking garages.
The location of a typical boat hotel is usually located close to the city center and the views are unlike those from a hotel room. Prices for rooms vary according to your budget. As a botel is set to run like a hotel, you can expect better security and a 24 hour front desk.
The room may be tiny and the bathroom may be too uncomfortable for a tall person. There may not be coffe/tea making facilities nor a refrigerator in the room. Heels and dress shoes definitely do not go well with a metal walkway, hence you have to deal with the noise.
A farm stay is defined as a type of accommodation on a working farm. Farm stays are usually family oriented, involving interactive activities like feeding animals and collecting eggs. The experience is peaceful, quiet, much less chaotic than in the city, fresher air and lower incidence of crime.
However, you will be in trouble in the event that you need immediate medical attention as farms are usually isolated. Traveling to and fro to other places of interest outside the farm may be considerably farther. Convenience is definitely a disadvantage.
One of the most cheapest accommodation options as most monasteries are simply free, donation oriented or ask only a very small fee. They are family oriented and really quiet most of the time.
However, a room consists of only a bed and a desk. Meals often prepared by nuns or monks are simple. There is also a curfew that you are expected to adhere to.
A campervan is singe sectioned vehicle where the kitchen, bedroom and living room are combined as one. If you intend to tour around for a while, you will save lots with a camper van. You have the freedom of mobility, moving to anywhere you want anytime, extending at a place if you like it or move along immediately if you don’t. You can also pick a nice spot like the beach or the top of a hill to spend the night.
The biggest risk that comes with a motorhome is the vulnerability to theft and damage. It’s hard to experience the city’s nightlife without worries. Some campervans lack a toilet and shower, so hygiene will be an issue.
A tent is easy to pack and allows you to take off in a moment’s notice. You get the freedom to pitch it up at a beach or at a mountain top. Most importantly you save 100% on accommodation!
You are your own security, cannot bring too many items along and cold rainy nights will be most uncomfortable. You have to constantly be on the lookout for toilets, bathrooms, water, public electricity sockets and safe places to pitch your tent. You can’t cook and you have to lug along everything with you everywhere you go.